What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Bushy-Tailed Tree Rats

Filed under: Cars!,The House — dave @ 8:29 am 2013/09/20

We only have a single-car garage, which typically doesn’t have room for even a single car, so parking a car or three on the street is pretty much normal at our house. Just down the street from our property there is a walnut tree between the curb and the sidewalk, not far from where the 528e is usually parked.

A couple of days ago I saw a squirrel run out from under that car, and something made me think that he hopped down from the underside of it… I didn’t give it much thought it at the time, but this morning, while driving that car to work, I heard a little ‘thump’ as I was slowing for a stoplight, then saw a green walnut go rolling along the curb into the intersection. Great.

Looks like I need to do some inspecting and see how many more nuts that bushy-tailed tree rat has squirreled away in my car. And how much damage he’s caused in the process.

Define Curb-To-Curb Plowing

Filed under: Just Stuff,The House — Tags: , , — dave @ 10:11 am 2011/01/21

I glanced at the Argus Leader in the break room at work yesterday, and the letter to the editor on the front page of the Voices page jumped out at me; it literally warmed my heart!

Snow accumulating along curbs
DEB K. OLSON • SIOUX FALLS • JANUARY 20, 2011

Could someone define curb-to-curb snow removal?

The snow in our neighborhood is 5 feet or more from the curb and not because cars were on the streets when they were plowed as we are diligent about moving them before the plows arrived.

Get it wrong the first time, and the snow gets farther from the curb with each new snowfall that requires plowing.

If I put the extra snow back in the street, all along my property line, could I call the street department and request someone to come get the leftover snow, or will the city put it back in my driveway because it had a do-over?

Or, could I call a private plow operator and send the bill to the city?

Mail is not being delivered to our curbside mailboxes because the mail trucks can’t get close enough. Why should homeowners be required to move the snow that shouldn’t have been left there in the first place? Maybe Mayor Mike Huether could pick up our mail at the post office and deliver it to us on his way to Whisk & Chop to discuss the events center.

When the city plowed the emergency snow route at the end of our block, twice, it left the extra snow at the end of the street. That made it pretty tough to get through, and the snow turns to concrete as we have to drive on it until we are blessed with a snowplow.

Does anyone at City Hall really listen when concerns are called in? What are we paying taxes for?

The work is half-baked at best.

I’ve been singing that tune ever since I became a homeowner and have had to park a vehicle on the street. At our house — with it’s narrow, short driveway and an attached single-car garage that rarely has room to fit a single car — four of the five vehicles we have are relegated to park on the street. Several of our neighbors also park on the street, so when the street narrows because of snow accumulation, we really notice it.

When the snowplows come by our house they typically have the edge of the blade a good foot or so from the curb. When they are pushing a good amount of snow, a lot of the snow falls back behind where the edge was, so the snow ends up even further from the curb. And when they’re not being especially careful about where they have the blade they can start out a good two feet from the curb, and then the lost space really starts to add up.

At our house we’ve resorted to going out after the snowplows have been by and digging the snow by hand right up to the curb. We pile the snow between the street and sidewalk, but that has its limits; right now the peak of the snow pile is a good five feet tall, and throwing more on it just lands it on the sidewalk. The photos above are from a year ago, but it looks the same this year; you can hardly see the roof of my 735 from the front window of the house, and the Hondas just disappear behind the pile. It’s a little ridiculous. It also makes clearing frost & snow from the windows interesting because there’s so little room between the car and vertical snowbank. And forget about opening the passenger-side door; just ain’t happening.

On the side streets the distance between the snow pile and the curb is one thing, but there are a couple of places near home — on 22nd and 26th Streets, near the VA Hospital and Children’s Care Center &mash; where the same street-narrowing thing happens, and many employees continue to choose to park their cars there anyway. With heavy traffic flowing in both directions through those areas, it gets a little dicey driving past those spots.

I can understand that the plow drivers need to keep their distance from the curb a bit to avoid damaging the curbs and their equipment, but it’s pretty annoying for them to keep moving further and further from the curb each time. Even though we go the extra step in clearing the snow right up to the curb for them, they still maintain their distance when passing our house, but even if they did push the snow up against the curb in front of our house, the snow would have nowhere to go anyway, so…

It’s there that I run out of steam on my rant. Beaten again by overthinking the issue.

Compact Fluorescents Suck

Filed under: Home Life,The House — Tags: , , — dave @ 9:49 pm 2009/07/16

I hate compact fluorescent light bulbs. I really do. I like the fact that they use less electricity than a standard incandescent bulb, but aside from that there is absolutely no up-side to using them.

We’ve got CFL’s installed in various places around the house, and I discovered one of them was out this morning. I went to replace it, and it had this brown gunk oozing from the base. When I first opened the fixture — an old recessed ceiling fixture that holds the bulb horizontally — I could see a drip of the brown at a seam in the base and some splatters on the inside of the fixture’s glass; great. When I unscrewed the bulb, the drip travelled around the base; wonderful.

Then once I got the bulb out of the fixture, I caught a whiff of the thing, and even now, more than an hour and two hand-washings later, I can still smell it. And I can feel a headache brewing too. It was most likely a failure of the starter circuit’s componentry, which in most cheaper bulbs is the weak link.

I still had one 23W CFL in the cabinet downstairs, so that’s what went in to replace it. It’s a higher-quality bulb than what it replaced (made by GE), but I’m pretty sure the dead one was supposed to last five years. I didn’t date it when it was installed, but I’m reasonably sure it was within the last two years. I marked the new one with today’s date, and I will be hanging onto the warranty card; it’s guaranteed to last five years, and by golly, if it gives out before then, they’ll hear from me.

Aside from the nastiness that comes from them when the electronics fails, you’ve got the mercury in them to deal with if the glass breaks. But I hate them most when they’re “working”; you flip a switch on, and the things take up to a minute to warm up & give full light. And that’s considered normal. I sure don’t think of it as normal. I flip a switch on & I want light now, not when the bulb gets around to it. And you can forget about using a

I think today’s will be the last CFL I install. To me, the leaking crap that comes out of them the disposal hazards and the operational goofiness and the crappy cool white light they give off make them completely not worth the bother. Unfortunately, our wonderful Congress passed a law a while back that sunsets the use of incandescent bulbs, so that may not be an option for much longer. Might start stockpiling now. That or look into LED’s, which may not be much better than CFL’s. Bother.

The Convective Heat Burst

Filed under: Fun!,Geek,The House — Tags: , , , — dave @ 11:15 pm 2008/08/03

Last night we experienced a rather weird and rare weather phenomenon. It’s called a Convective Heat Burst.

About 4 a.m. this morning I woke to the sound of shrieking winds and tree branches falling on the roof. I looked outside & saw that a good-sized branch had fallen from the maple tree, so I went outside to check & see if there was any damage. One step outside the back door and I knew something was up; it was like walking into a sauna — hot!

The wind was still howling and it was beginning to rain, but thankfully, there wasn’t any damage to the house & the large branch had fallen between our house and the neighbor’s garage on the fence & but small branches were scattered everywhere. The wind died down shortly afterward, and I could feel the temperature dropping while I was out there. It was strange; really strange.

This afternoon I went digging around on the Internet to see what I could find out about what went on this morning; KELO-TV had a blurb on their website and their blog about it which provided me with its name, and of course Wikipedia has a page on it, which was even updated with this morning’s event; how about that! I posted a question to the KELO blog about it and Tony Barlow responded with a little more information on it and a link to another website describing the phenomena. The graph below (click on the image for a slightly larger version) also came from Tony and the KELO blog.

Turns out that meteorologists don’t know for sure what causes a heat burst but they always happen when a thunderstorm cell is dying. It’s theorized that it starts when rain hits a pocket of dry air at about 10-20,000 feet and quickly evaporates. The evaporating moisture causes the air to become more dense than the surrounding air, which causes it to descend rapidly. During the rapid descent the air mass is compressed, which causes its temperature to rise sharply. When that mass of air hits the ground, you get high winds and hot, dry air. The link provided by Tony mentions that the hot dry air is capable of killing vegetation by quickly pulling the moisture out of it, and in some cases the heat can stick around for quite some time.

According to the chart above the temperature was about 73° prior to the event. Within a very short time period the temp jumped to the 101° high, then drifted back down to about 72°. According to the Wikipedia entry, a heat burst occurred in Brazil in 1949 causing the temp to jump from 100°F to 158°F in two minutes!

I had never even heard of a heat burst before, much less experienced one, so in a way I’m glad for the large downed branch laying in my yard, in spite of the extra work it means… If it weren’t for that I wouldn’t have been outside at 4a.m. to experience the heat; and if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t have been curious enough to go looking for the reason behind that and the wind accompanying it.

Update: (more…)

Google-Eye View of the Home Base

Filed under: The House — dave @ 11:01 pm 2005/07/30

This will show a satellite photo of our block. It doesn’t point to our house exactly, but it’s close. Our house is three houses down from the pointer.

I love Google Maps! It rocks!